Shaken baby trial begins in Ottawa County Circuit Court

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:57 AM

Closing arguments have taken place and a verdict is expected sometime after 3 p.m. in the trial of a 23-year-old man charged with shaking his 5-week-old baby, seriously injuring him.

Justin McIntyre, who was living at a home in the 300 block of Maple Street in Ferrysburg at the time, remains jailed on $75,000 bond.

He has been charged with first-degree child abuse for allegedly shaking his child, Bentley McIntyre in the early morning hours on Aug. 24.

Bentley spent several weeks in the hospital and takes medication for seizures. The last seizure he had was around Thanksgiving, said his mother, Kaylee Zalsman.

Although he seems to be doing pretty good, Zalsman said that it is unknown how bad the brain damage is until milestones are passed and made or not made.

Zalsman and three other people who lived in the Ferrysburg house at the time testified this morning.

Detectives Bryan Tithof of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety and Cory Allard of the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department also took the stand.

More than an hour of the trial was spent watching a video of Tithof’s early morning interview with Justin McIntyre at the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department.

In the video, McIntyre explained how frustrated he was with the child’s crying and how efforts to soothe him were not working.

At one point, he took a stuffed toy supplied to him by the detective, and demonstrated how he shoved the baby down onto the bed in frustration, hitting the child’s head on a laptop computer.

He said Bentley started crying harder at that time, so he picked him up and shook him. In response to questions from Tithof, he demonstrated holding the baby without supporting his neck.

He said, yes, Bentley’s head was flopping back and forth when he shook him.

According to testimony, Justin had taken over care of his child when he returned home from work late on Aug. 23. Bentley was sleeping at the time.

The child later woke up, started crying and Justin became more frustrated, he told Tithof in the videotaped interview.

A relative in the living room, Richard Zalsman, testified he heard the frustration in Justin’s voice and was starting to text Kaylee Zalsman’s mother his concern.

That’s when he heard Justin yell, “shut the ### up,” and the baby stopped crying.

Zalsman said he rushed up to get Kaylee’s mother, Patti VanOmmen, who then discovered that the baby was gasping for air, then not breathing.

The family then rushed the baby to the hospital, where he was checked, then airlifted to DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.

Judge Ed Post announced his verdict of guilty of second-degree child abuse shortly after 3 p.m. today.

Sentencing will be Jan. 18, 2013.

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